Former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias says lawmakers should be allowed to vote freely, in a secret ballot, on the agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which he helped broker last July.
In an interview to the Sunday edition of daily newspaper “Ethnos,” Kotzias appears confident the deal, which would allow Greece’s northern neighbor to use the name “North Macedonia” would pass easily.
Asked about the danger that FYROM would violate certain terms of the agreement, Kotzias said that “some should stop projecting a Greece lacking in confidence and always behaving as the victim of small countries’ ‘grand plans’ when, in fact, these countries now want to be our friends.”
Kotzias says the ruling Syriza party could win the next national election “if the government becomes more careful, some of its members less frivolous and some people work really hard and not just appear to be working”. He also says that a pre-condition for victory is for Syriza “to be done with (its government partners) the Independent Greeks and contribute to a rational alliance with progressive left (parties).”
Kotzias, who became Foreign Minister when Syriza formed a government in January 2015, resigned last October after his disagreement with Independent Greeks leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who opposes the FYROM deal, spilled over into an angry exchange at a cabinet meeting. Kotzias felt he was not backed up by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Kotzias also criticizes his decision to propose gradually expanding Greece’s territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles. “The proponents of inaction say that Greece can’t expand its territorial waters in stages because this shows we give ground to third parties,” meaning Turkey. “But the real retreat is when you do nothing by invoking obstacles,” Kotzias said.